The story of St. Bet’sie
By David Myers
The other day my wife and I were theorizing about Heaven. Theorizing is one of my favorite hobbies. It makes me feel smart. Theories are conclusions drawn from a mixture of facts and possibilities. For example, I know Heaven exists, but whether or not it has a volleyball team is left entirely to theory. Our conversation reminded me of something I once read. Or maybe I made it up. Or dreamt it. Regardless, here it is:
You may have heard of St. Bet’sie De Moutoné (1522-1603). In Dr. Galen Rodge’s text, “To Heaven and Back Again”, Dr. Rodge shared a description of the saint’s death and subsequent resuscitation, which the future saint wrote about in 1554. “Having suffered ill, I found myself pouring toward that heavenly light so oft told in days past. It was as they say -- beautiful, warm, inviting, and really bright. Once having reached the light, I beset twixt two large doors and into the embrace of our Savior, who stood grinning in such a way as to set upon one the feeling you were his close pal. He led me into a room in which stood several long tables, each with place settings for eight, and one small table for kids. On another was set a banquet of victuals, the scent of which set the stomach to want. It was to be served buffet style. I was particularly drawn to the little tortillas in which were wrapped cheese, peppers and unrecognizable things which I questioned not.
“Appearing before me was my dear mother and father, long these many years past, who embraced me in that warm light, and led me to another in wait, my husband, George, who shook my hand with tender vigor. George was never want for hugging. Oh, the joy! The unparalleled delight at greeting my Savior! The unequalled pleasure at embracing long lost family and friends! The slight elation at seeing George!
“Christ then led me to the center table, where, after taking a seat, he bathed my feat tenderly and anointed my head with oil. Therein I experienced a love that the mind on this earth cannot comprehend, a total love, a love without pause, without condition, a love constant. Then we had a slide-show. Christ signaled a man in the back who flipped a switch on a projector. My Savior whispered to me that whilst the projector would not be invented on earth for 500 years, ‘in Heaven they are quite popular’.
“With Christ at my side and surrounded by family and friends, we thence viewed the highlights of my life these 32 years, from my birth, to playing with my first toy, a stuffed pigeon named ‘Mr. Feathers’. I saw my dear parents taking me and my brother to church. I saw my first Communion. I laughed as I saw myself enjoying my eighth birthday party. Father had hired a Queen Mary impersonator who juggled six oranges while reciting a treatise on the subjugation of Protestants. Father bid him good riddance and paid him not.
“I watched as my life stretched onward; my youth – oh, how the good times did runneth over! Doubles chess -- the year we took second place to the Dalmónt twins.
“And hope. Hope for the future: hope to one day serve God’s dejected children.
“I saw picnics by the lake with Aunt and Uncle. One picture appeared showing Uncle Richard flying from a rope into the water as I stood to the side bent with delight. From his audience in the heavenly banquet, Uncle shouted, ‘Unlike some people, I couldn’t walk on water!’ to which my dear Christ laughed louder than anyone.
“I saw my marriage to George, a handsome gnu farmer who owned ‘Good Gnus’ bar and grille on the side. I saw us in prayer. Although I heard not, I knew without doubt we were praying for a child to bear. The next photo showed our hands clasped, another showed my face looking to God through teary eyes. I could hear people weeping in the heavenly banquet room. The next picture was sadder yet: my husband, George leaving for work, I at the table, downcast, dejected.
“So it was, then, that I became burdened by my own dismay, a hope lost, and with it, my faith. I had so wanted to serve God’s dejected children, but in not having a child of my own, my desire to serve was lost in a haze of self-pity. It was only through this intense love that now enveloped me that I could see clearly the folly of my actions. My husband had fallen ill and died, and so did my desire for life. It was this that stole my health and led me to this heavenly banquet.
“’Dear Lord,’ I whispered to Christ as he popped a little rolled up tortilla into his mouth, ‘I should have rejected despair and replaced it with desire – desire to lend hope to others where it had escaped me.’
“It was then I realized that the weeping I heard was not because of the slide-show, but because those who loved me so deeply in this room would again be saying goodbye to me.
“My Lord smiled with sympathy. It seemed my life wasn’t complete. He walked me to the front door, allowing my re-birth into my physical body on earth. When I awoke, I felt that same great love I had felt in Christ’s presence. He was still with me. I vowed that I would honor him each and every moment, never again to reject the hope and that magnificent love he placed in my heart.”